We all know that dogs’ noses are pretty powerful. They can be trained to sniff out almost anything. And recently in Australia, the power of the canine nose is being put to good use as there are dogs being trained to sniff out koalas in the wild – all part of an attempt to rescue the animals caught in the bushfires.
A mix between border collie and koolie, who is named Bear, is trained to sniff out live koalas. As the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) claims, his unique skills are being put to use during rescue operations that are happening in the New South Wales Northern Rivers region.
“IFAW specifically sponsors koala detection dog Bear, but there are other dogs which the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland works with, some of which are trained to sniff for koala droppings, whereas Bear is trained to sniff out koala fur and identify where there are live koalas,” IFAW spokeswoman Clare Sterling said to CNN.
So far, Bear has been able to pick up the scent of live koalas located in an Indigenous Protected area known as the Ngunya Jargoon. As a recent IFAW Facebook post reported, prior to 85% of the 1000 hectares was destroyed by wildfires, close to 40 koalas called the protected area home.
Australia wildfire update: We recently joined Friends of the Koala Inc. and Bear, our koala detection dog, along with…
The post read, “Bear indicated there are definitely live koalas in the area, which is promising.”
According to CNN, Sterling has described Bear as a very energetic rescue dog, which makes him perfect for detection.
“As a young, intelligent and high-energy dog, his energy made him less suitable as a pet and had led him to be put up for adoption again by early owners. So training him as a koala detection dog also gives him a secure future,” Sterling said.
Another detection dog called Taylor, has assisted in the location of 8 koalas – including a mother and joey. According to Ryan and Jennifer Tate from Tate Animal Training Enterprises, the rescues took place while Taylor was deployed in Port Macquarie for three days.
“On three occasions she sat right beneath live animals, (including a mum and joey), and then in many other instances she would alert us to fresh scat (animal feces) and we would notify the expert koala spotters who would then survey the canopy to spot the survivors,” they said in a Facebook post.
For months now Port Macquarie has been getting hammered by bush fires.Taylor and Ryan have managed to get out for a…
Taylor, a 4-year-old Springer spaniel, has been working as a professional conservation dog for three years. During this time he’s been finding various native species – koalas included.
“Recently with the fire situation in Australia we have been helping the Koala Hospital and Port Macquarie council locate injured or distressed koalas on the fringes of these bush fires and relocate them to safe areas or bring them into the hospital for treatment,” stated Ryan.
Animal experts are fearing that as a result of the bushfires, over 350 koalas have been killed in New South Wales.
Hopefully these canine heroes can continue to find and save the poor koalas.